Category Archives: DVD/Blu-Ray Reviews

Blu-Ray Review: Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlas available on Blu-ray Combo pack, DVD and Digital Download 5/14

Synopsis:
From acclaimed filmmakers Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer, and Andy Wachowski, the powerful and inspiring epic drama “Cloud Atlas” explores how the actions and consequences of individual lives impact one another throughout the past, the present and the future.

Action, mystery and romance weave dramatically through the story as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and a single act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution in the distant future.

Review:
The film jumps around six different stories in six different time periods. In 1849, a dying lawyer discovers an escaped, stowaway slave in his cabin. In 1936, young composer gets the chance of a lifetime working with an aging, famous composer. In 1973, a journalist gets wrapped up in dangerous corporate espionage. In 2012, a publisher finds himself locked up in a nursing home against his will. In 2144 Korea, a clone restaurant server dreams of something more than her life as a slave. And in the far distant future, a tribesman deals with an inner demon while escorting a woman to the forbidden mountains. Eventually, the stories begin weaving together with the message that “Our lives are not our own. We are bound to others, past and present, and by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.” And the point is further pushed as the same actors play a variety of roles across each time period’s story. Most are easy to point out, despite the makeup. And in the end credits, each actor is shown in each role they had.

I haven’t read the book, so the story was new to me – other than the reviews from friends of mine. I had low expectations, hearing it was an over-done artsy film. But I was surprised by the power and drama of each story – moving and poignant. The acting was phenomenal. The music was enchanting. And the cinematography and special effects were stunning. The movie does drag at times though, and at almost three hours runtime became tiresome. Quite a bit could have been cut out and still had the same effect. While it’s a visually striking film, it was also emotionally draining. I don’t think that I would watch it again without skipping through a lot. But I’m glad I finally watched this epic fantasy. Most reviewers used the word “ambitious” when describing Cloud Atlas. I agree.

Blu-ray and DVD Elements:
Cloud Atlas Blu-ray Combo Pack contains the following special features:
• A Film Like No Other
• Everything is Connected
• The Impossible Adaptation
• The Essence of Acting
• Spaceships, Slaves and Sextets
• The Bold Science Fiction of Cloud Atlas
• Eternal Recurrence: Love, Life, and Longing in Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlas Standard Definition DVD contains the following special features:
• A Film Like No Other

SciFi Blu Ray Review: Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 3 and the Best of Both Worlds

Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 3 and Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Best of Both Worlds

Synopsis:
STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION – THE THIRD SEASON is a 6-disc collection featuring all 26 episodes of the third season. Continuing to follow the remarkable voyages of the Starship Enterprise, the third season includes some of the most celebrated episodes in Star Trek canon.

STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION – THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS Blu-ray features a seamlessly edited, one-part, feature length presentation of the classic two-part cliffhanger. In this fan favorite episode, Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) is captured and assimilated by the Borg. Available in high-definition for the first time ever, a centerpiece to the release is a newly-produced featurette entitled “Regeneration: Engaging the Borg.” Offering fans an in-depth exploration into the creation of The Next Generation’s most iconic villains, along with the making of the episode, the exclusive featurette includes all-new interviews with the show’s production staff, visual effects artists, writers, and cast as they reveal the challenges faced in producing one of the most technically complex episodes of the series. Plus the set includes an exclusive gag reel and all-new commentary with technical consultants Mike and Denise Okuda, actor Elizabeth Dennehy and director Cliff Bole.

Review:
Star Trek: The Next Generation was my favorite television series from the time it aired. And season three had some of the best episodes such as: The Most Toys, Deja Q, Yesterday’s Enterprise, and The Best of Both Worlds, Part 1 to name just a few. By now, the crew has formed a noticeable camaraderie. This is science fiction at its finest with unique characters, exceptional stories, and great special effects for its time. I loved experiencing these adventures again, restored on blu ray. I received this season for review, but enjoyed so much that I had to go out and buy the previous seasons on blu ray as well. My favorite new addition was the featurette “Inside The Writer’s Room” moderated by Seth MacFarlane. And of course, I can’t get enough of gag reels.

Continue reading SciFi Blu Ray Review: Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 3 and the Best of Both Worlds

Blu-ray Review: Star Trek: Enterprise Season One

Star Trek: Enterprise Season One Blu-ray

About the Show:
STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE recounts the adventures of the pioneers of space travel who ventured into the universe 100 years before James T. Kirk helmed the starship of the same name. Set in the 22nd century, ENTERPRISE takes place in an era when interstellar travel is still in its infancy. Captain Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula) has assembled a crew of brave explorers to chart the galaxy on a revolutionary spacecraft: Enterprise NX-01. As the first human beings to venture into deep space, these men and women will experience the wonder and mystery of the final frontier as they seek out new life and new civilizations.

Included in the Blu-Ray Set:
Disc 1:
“Broken Bow”
– Commentary
– Deleted Scenes
“Fight or Flight”
– Deleted Scenes
“Strange New World”
Special Features:
– In Conversation: Rick Berman and Brannon Braga
– Cast Introduction
– Network Presentation
– Syndication Presentation
– Archival Mission Logs:
– Creating Enterprise
– O Captain! My Captain! A Profile of Scott Bakula
– NX-01 File 02

Disc 2:
“Unexpected”
– Deleted Scene
“Terra Nova”
“The Andorian Incident”
– Text Commentary
“Breaking the Ice”
“Civilization”
Special Features:
– Archival Mission Logs:
– Cast Impressions: Season 1
– Enterprise Secrets

Disc 3:
Continue reading Blu-ray Review: Star Trek: Enterprise Season One

Blu-Ray Review: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

SYNOPSIS:
The adventure follows the journey of title character Bilbo Baggins, who is swept into an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome Dragon Smaug. Approached out of the blue by the Wizard Gandalf the Grey, Bilbo finds himself joining a company of 13 Dwarves led by the legendary warrior, Thorin Oakenshield. Their journey will take them into the Wild, through treacherous lands swarming with Goblins, Orcs and deadly Wargs, as well as a mysterious and sinister figure known only as the Necromancer.

Although their goal lies to the East and the wastelands of the Lonely Mountain, first they must escape the Goblin tunnels, where Bilbo meets the creature that will change his life forever…Gollum. Here, alone with Gollum, on the shores of an underground lake, the unassuming Bilbo Baggins not only discovers depths of ingenuity and courage that surprise even him, he also gains possession of Gollum’s “precious” ring that holds unexpected and useful qualities…A simple, gold ring that is tied to the fate of all Middle-earth in ways Bilbo cannot begin to know.

REVIEW:
Martin Freeman (“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”) stars as Bilbo Baggins. He’s a reluctant hero with a good heart and extremely likeable. Sir Ian McKellen returns to his role as Gandalf the Grey – a younger Gandalf from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Returning roles also include: Cate Blanchett as Galadriel; Ian Holm as Old Bilbo; Christopher Lee as Saruman; Hugo Weaving as Elrond; Elijah Wood as Frodo; and Andy Serkis as Gollum. It’s a bit odd going back and doing a prequel story, making characters younger. But with the success of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, it’s not surprising that The Hobbit was picked up as well.

Nine years after the release of the Return of the King also means that the CGI and cinematography is even that much more fantastic. The rich landscapes are breathtaking. And the creature effects are incredibly impressive and life-like. In fact, my only complaint is that the novel The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien has been split into three movies. It felt like parts of this installment could have been skipped in order to fit everything in – and just made into a slightly longer film. But I’m sure the movie makers want the extra money that 3 films can bring instead of 1 or even 2.

This first installment in the Hobbit trilogy is a fun, thrilling, adventure. Full of humor, suspense, drama, and magic – fantasy fans will certainly enjoy. Since this is the first in the trilogy of films (and it’s based on only one novel) the film ends in an abrupt, awkward place. And the wait for the next installments seem painfully long.

BLU-RAY AND DVD ELEMENTS:
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack and DVD Special Edition contain the following special features:

Full Suite of Peter Jackson’s Production Videos. Enter Middle-earth of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey as Academy Award-winning Director Peter Jackson takes you behind the scenes, on location and amidst the star-studded cast in a series of video journals that puts you in the forefront of latest in filmmaking with more than two hours of additional content. Highlights of the journals include:
o Start of Production
o Location Scouting
o Filming in 3D
o Post-production Overview
o Wellington World Premiere

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was released on December 14, 2012, with the second film, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, releasing December 13, 2013, and the third film, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, slated for July 18, 2014.

Begin your Hobbit Collection by owning the first installment – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey available on Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack and 2-disc DVD Special Edition on 3/19

Blu-Ray Review: Grimm Season 1

Grimm: Season One (Blu-ray + UltraViolet)

Synopsis:
Homicide detective Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli) discovers he is descended from a long line of criminal profilers known as “Grimms,” protectors who are charged with keeping the balance between humanity and the creatures of myth. With newly awoken abilities to detect the evil lurking among us, Nick struggles to keep his old life separate and safe as he becomes ever more entrenched in the ancient rivalries of the Grimm world.

Review:
Nick and Hank (Russell Hornsby) may be the police detectives that investigate the strange reports in the area. But it’s Monroe (the local werewolf) that Nick runs to for help with the paranormal situations. Nick and Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell) have a great chemistry. And Monroe’s smart humor adds a much-needed light-hearted feel to an otherwise dark and suspenseful setting. Bitsie Tulloch plays Nick’s girlfriend Juliette who knows nothing (until the end of the season) about Nick’s Grimm legacy.

This is one of my favorite shows on television. Each episode is a different Grimm fairy tale or myth with a modern day twist is always full of thrills, chills, and fantastic creatures. The mixture of mystery, suspense, horror and humor makes this a must-watch show. ABC’s aired its first season of the popular fairy tale series Once Upon a Time this past year as well. And though there are similarities, there is a decidedly different feel to Grimm. There is none of the corniness or fanciful magic of OUaT. This is dark and gritty, with a more realistic, modern twist to the familiar stories. While there is an overlying arc that flows throughout the season, another nice thing about the series is that you don’t necessarily have to watch each one in order. Each episode is a creature-(or fairy tale)-of-the-week with complex characters and exceptional writing. Don’t miss this series.

Specs:
Available on Blu-ray and DVD on August 7, 2012, this five-disc set includes all 22 episodes.
BLU-RAY BONUS FEATURES INCLUDE:
• Grimm Guide: An interactive book that provides insight into the various creatures featured in the show.
• 2 Grimm collector’s cards
BLU-RAY and DVD BONUS FEATURES INCLUDE:
• The World of Grimm: Get to know the characters and creatures that inhabit the world of “Grimm” and discover the inspiration behind the storylines.
• Making Monsters: Go behind the scenes with Andy Clement and Barney Burman as they take viewers through the special makeup effects design and application process. The talented team from Hive FX also shows fans how they give life to the monsters of “Grimm.”
• Deleted scenes
• Gag reel

Blu-Ray Review: Cellular

Cellular Blu-ray Edition

Official Synopsis:
A young man receives an emergency phone call on his cell phone from an older woman. The catch? The woman claims to have been kidnapped; and the kidnappers have targeted her husband and child next.

Review:
Kim Basinger and Chris Evans star in this 2004 action/adventure film. Basinger is kidnapped without explanation and thrown into a dark basement. Jason Statham plays the ruthless kidnapper who smashes the only phone in the room. But Basinger’s character is a science teacher and she quickly gets the phone working but can’t dial a specific number. Chris Evans’ character, a young slacker, receives her distressing phone call that she’s been kidnapped. Something in him snaps, and he suddenly becomes a hero that will stop at nothing to save her and her family. This was a surprisingly fun and exciting movie with plenty of action – and Basinger’s character is a strong and smart woman instead of just a helpless victim. William H. Macy also had a great role of a disenchanted police officer who is given the chance to prove himself. Fast-paced and full of thrills, mystery, suspense, and humor – Cellular was one I thoroughly enjoyed.

SciFi Blu-Ray Reviews: Frequency and Outland

First time on Blu-ray – get Coma, Outland, Altered States, Brainstorm, The Astronaut’s Wife, Frequency, and Spawn: Director’s Cut on July 20th!

Frequency Blu-ray Edition

Official Synopsis:
A phenomenon allows police officer John Sullivan (Jim Caviezel) to save the life of his long-dead father (Dennis Quaid). But changing the past leads to a string of brutal, serial homicides. Now, they both must race across time to stop the killer.

Review:
Caviezel and Quaid star in this fantastic 2000 scifi flick. The story is unique and inspired. John Sullivan (Jim Caviezel) begins to communicate with his deceased father (Dennis Quaid) in the past via an old radio as the northern lights seem to be affecting the instrument. But as Caviezel begins sharing with his father, the past begins to change. And a serial killer that was once stopped is now on the loose again. Full of heart-wrenching drama, suspense, and danger – this is a must for any scifi fan’s movie library. I previously owned the DVD, and the blu-ray edition is quite a bit clearer and sharper.

Outland Blu-ray Edition

Official Synopsis:
A federal marshal on an outer-space mining colony uncovers deadly secrets, triggering a showdown. Oscar(R) winner Sean Connery lays down the law in Peter Hyams’ sci-fi sizzler.

Review:
This 1981 scifi thriller is obviously outdated with its early 80’s technology and cheesy special effects. But the story and drama is still intense and suspenseful. Connery plays a marshal new to the mining colony where he’s completely on his own against a powerful and corrupt corporation. Despite the story lags and slow start (with way too much reading about the details of the colony), this was still a fun and exciting film that fans of retro scifi will enjoy now on blu-ray.

Blu-Ray Review: Wrath of the Titans

Wrath of the Titans Blu-ray Edition

Official Synopsis:
A decade after his heroic defeat of the monstrous Kraken, Perseus (Worthington)—the demigod son of Zeus (Neeson)—is attempting to live quietly as a village fisherman and the sole parent to his 10-year-old son, Helius. But unbeknownst to Perseus, a struggle for supremacy has been raging between the gods that will come to threaten his idyllic life. Dangerously weakened by humanity’s lack of devotion, the gods are losing hold of their immortality, as well as control over the imprisoned Titans and their ferocious leader, Kronos, father of the long-ruling brothers Zeus, Hades (Fiennes) and Poseidon (Danny Huston). The triumvirate had overthrown their powerful father long ago, leaving him to rot in the gloomy abyss of Tartarus, a dungeon that lies deep within the cavernous Underworld.

Now, Perseus cannot ignore his true calling as Hades, along with Zeus’ godly son, Ares (Edgar Ramirez), switches loyalties and makes a deal with Kronos to capture Zeus. The Titan’s strength grows as Zeus’ remaining godly powers are siphoned…and hell is unleashed on earth. Enlisting the help of the warrior Queen Andromeda (Rosamund Pike), Poseidon’s demigod son Agenor (Toby Kebbell), and fallen god Hephaestus (Bill Nighy), Perseus bravely embarks on a treacherous quest into the Underworld to rescue Zeus, overthrow the Titans and save mankind.

WRATH OF THE TITANS

Review:
This is the sequel to 2010’s Clash of the Titans, which looks incredibly similar in all but the story details. This time, Perseus and his small band of adventurers search for a powerful weapon to drive back the Titan Kronos and keep him imprisoned. In Clash of the Titans, Perseus had to battle Medusa in order to have a weapon to defeat the Kraken monster and to save the Princess Andromeda. In both films, Perseus goes up against surprisingly not-so-immortal gods and a slew of ugly, monstrous creatures attack humans with little-to-no way to defend themselves. Perseus is only half human though, as son of Zeus. And as Zeus’ champion, Perseus becomes humanity’s hero once again.

I’m usually a fan of films and novels that take a unique approach to Greek mythology, but Wrath of the Titans takes it a bit too far for my taste. The same immortal gods Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades from the previous film suddenly become weak, easily injured and mortal – without sufficient explanation. The film starts out very slow with dragging dialog that doesn’t really further the plot, which is unfortunate since the film’s saving grace is the adventure and combat scenes. Despite its flaws, I still enjoyed the fantastic special effects and CGI creatures, action-packed thrills, and even a bit of humor.

Blu-ray Special Features:
Maximum Movie Mode: Control your destiny and choose one of two unique experiences: The Path of Men or The Path of Gods
– Focus Points
§ Battling the Chimera
§ Who Are The Titans?
§ Agenor: The Other Demi-God
§ The Cyclops Fight
§ Prison of the Titans
§ Minotaur: The Human Nightmare
§ The Heavens Raise Hell on Earth
§ Hephaestus: God of Fire
§ Lost in Tartarus’ Labyrinth
§ Creatures of the Titans
– Storyboard Comparisons
– Deleted Scenes and more
DVD disc: Feature film in standard definition

Trailer: